Myanmar accused at UN court of genocide against Rohingya

Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

By Mike Corder / Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Myanmar was accused Monday of genocide at the U.N.’s highest court for its campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, as lawyers asked the International Court of Justice to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately.”

Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Gambia’s justice minister and attorney general, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, told The Associated Press he wanted to “send a clear message to Myanmar and to the rest of the international community that the world must not stand by and do nothing in the face of terrible atrocities that are occurring around us. It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right before our own eyes.”

Myanmar officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Myanmar’s military began a harsh counterinsurgency campaign against the Rohingya in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings and the torching of homes.

The head of a U.N. fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned last month that “there is a serious risk of genocide recurring.”

The mission also said in its final report in September that Myanmar should be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against the Rohingya.

The case filed at the International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, alleges that Myanmar’s campaign against the Rohingya, which includes “killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting conditions that are calculated to bring about physical destruction, imposing measures to prevent births, and forcible transfers, are genocidal in character because they are intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part.”

Tambadou said in a statement: “Gambia is taking this action to seek justice and accountability for the genocide being committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya, and to uphold and strengthen the global norm against genocide that is binding upon all states.”

Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called the case a “game changer” and called on other states to support it.

The world court ordering provisional measures “could help stop the worst ongoing abuses against the Rohingya in Myanmar,” she said.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor also asked judges at that court in July for permission to open a formal investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she wants to investigate crimes of deportation, inhumane acts and persecution allegedly committed as Rohingya were driven from Myanmar, which is not a member of the global court, into Bangladesh, which is.

The International Criminal Court holds individuals responsible for crimes while the International Court of Justice settles disputes between nations. Both courts are based in The Hague.

Last month, Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, Hau Do Suan, called the U.N. fact-finding mission “one-sided” and based on “misleading information and secondary sources.” He said Myanmar’s government takes accountability seriously and that perpetrators of all human rights violations “causing the large outflow of displaced persons to Bangladesh must be held accountable.”

Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, welcomed the filing.

“The international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar, but it is not too late to hold the State of Myanmar accountable for its crimes,” he said.

Yasmin Ullah, a Rohingya activist based in Canada, said the court case helps by recognizing the suffering of her people.

“It is so important for us to feel like our pain is recognized because we’ve internalized all our lives that we’re not worthy and so that’s why it’s such an emotional moment,” she told AP after a panel discussion in The Hague.

“But it also is important that the word ‘genocide’ has been uttered so much within one hour … and we’ve pushed so hard for it for such a long time and finally it is being heard.”

Talk to us

More in Nation-World

Supreme Court: LGBT people protected from job discrimination

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Boeing, suppliers plunge on stop-and-go 737 Max comeback

An uptick in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has added to concerns that airlines face a prolonged recovery

Boeing goes another month without a single airliner order

Airlines are canceling thousands of flights while passengers remain too scared to fly.

Bellevue couple’s nightmare: Held in China, away from daughter

Chinese officials want the man’s father to return from the U.S. to face 20-year-old embezzling charges.

Airbus CEO warns workers it’s bleeding cash and needs cuts

Both Airbus and Boeing are preparing for job cuts as they gauge the depth of the downturn.

U.S. unsure it can meet deadline to disburse funds to tribes

The department hasn’t determined whether unique Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share.

As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans.”

Trump, Congress scramble to revive virus-hunting agency

In 2019 it was without a permanent leader, and in the Trump administration’s budget-slashing sights.

Virus casts a dark cloud over once-thriving home market

Shutdown orders have halted open houses, sellers are delaying listings and buyers are losing their jobs.

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability.”

Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

Both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history.

Senate unanimously passes massive coronavirus aid plan

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.